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Marketing to Mom at Mother’s Day

May 10, 2019
By Liz Hawks

Mother’s Day is upon us and it’s a big deal not just for moms, but brands as well. In fact, consumers spend $8B more at Mother’s Day than Father’s Day. But, if Mom is supposed to be queen of the day lavished with attention and gifts, why is Mom herself the recipient of so many Mother’s Day marketing messages? Here are five reasons:

1. Moms are the family relationship managers. Research shows that Mom is usually responsible for maintaining the family’s relationships, thus recognizing with some form of card or gift not only her own mother, but her mother-in-law, step-mothers on any side, grandmothers on all sides, her sister(s) and/or sister(s)-in-law who are mothers, her friends who are mothers, and anyone else who is like a mother to any person on behalf of the family. Mom’s basket size, as they say in retail, is much larger when it comes to potential Mother’s Day purchases than the one of the person doing the purchasing for her.

2. Moms are a marketing channel. Even if they don’t realize they’re doing it, research shows that once a woman becomes a mom, she talks about brands with her friends eight times more in often per week than she did before she had kids. So, moms are not only a great target consumer for brands, they’re actually helping brands spread key messages. And moms are most motivated by peer recommendations. When moms are so emotionally compelled by a Mother’s Day themed online video created by a florist that they click to share said video with Facebook friends, they are co-marketing with the florist. Dads don’t communicate with each other in the same way. Smart marketers give moms compelling reasons to carry their messages forward, and that typically starts with social video conveying some kind of emotion, whether pulling on her heart-strings or eliciting a laugh.

3. Moms are pro hinters. My own mother-in-law has been known to purchase and even wrap the Christmas gift she really wanted, put it under the tree and label it as from my father-in-law. This is admittedly a level beyond hinting. But Moms are master communicators. They know how to hint for what they’d really like, and retailers want us to put them at the top of that wish (or treat-yourself) list. (Confession: I may or may not have forwarded an email promotion I just received from my favorite jeweler to my husband.)

4. Purchase data encourages us to keep Mom in the bullseye. Yes, dads matter! But while some marketers are attempting to evolve marketing-to-moms to “marketing-to-parents,” data shows that even though today’s dad is not his father’s father, he still isn’t the chief household purchaser. His hands-on household behaviors don’t correlate to product preferences and transactions. The talk about “de-gendering” mom marketing continues to persist, but remember marketing to everyone is marketing to no one. I’ve heard major consumer packaged goods leaders and “boy toy” brand marketers explain why they maintain focus on moms (hint: sales results), even though dads are quick to point out they care for the kids, too (and thank goodness for that!). Yes, there are more stay-at-home dads today, but there are still 37 times more stay-at-home moms. Don’t fall into the “parent” trap. It’s not gender-biased – it’s data-based.

5. Millennial mania persists. Marketers are continually on the quest to acquire and retain the large and lucrative millennial mom market. But millennial moms are not the “newbies” anymore. Based on the average age of a first-time mother and the age of today’s millennials, their kids are likely turning anywhere up to age 13 this year. Conversation remains very much focused on this mom, and at Mother’s Day we’ve noticed brands are attempting to appeal to their desire for me-time, like Kraft offering reimbursement for babysitting expenses. Next year, we should expect to see marketers start to shift focus to new Gen Z moms, currently in their early 20s. How will they continue to shape their version of motherhood and brand expectations?

Marketing to moms on Mother's Day is just important on the other 364 days of the year. FleishmanHillard's Liz Hawks explains why.